ALLOTMENTS which have been cultivated for more than a century are to be axed.

Users of Langcliffe allotments have been given their marching orders by Langcliffe Estate owner Robert Bell.

He has given the eight licence holders - they are not tenants but each has an annual licence - until December 31 this year to quit the site close to the village centre.

And they have been left in the dark over why he wants them out.

The closure is to take effect despite appeals for a change of heart from the allotment holders and Langcliffe Parish Council.

David Croll, who has been cultivating his site for seven years, said: "Initially the agent spoke about relocation, but it was never identified. It eventually became eviction, not relocation.

"It was all made more difficult because we wanted to know why we were being evicted, but we were never told why.

"Later the estate did respond. They said 'it was not incumbent on them to spell out the reason nor were they required to reveal the long-term plans. They found the questioning intrusive and upsetting'."

"If we were tenants of a private allotment we would have very few rights – as licence holders we have no rights whatsoever."

Alan Smelt, who has had an allotment 30 years, said they were devastated by the proposed closure.

"Since retiring, I have spent a lot of time up there. As well as a place to grow fruit and vegetables, it's a wildlife haven with squirrels and pheasants and birds which I feed. My wife and I will miss it greatly.

"The whole village is upset about it. We have received a lot of sympathy."

A parish council spokeswoman said the council had written a letter saying it was disappointed with the decision and asking if Mr Bell would change his mind.

"We got a nice letter back but declining and giving no explanation. We are to write again to ask where the alternative land was."

A spokesman for the estate's agents, P Wilson and Co, also declined to comment when contacted by the Craven Herald.